Mock you may not

At a banquet given during the Taihe reign period (827-35) of Emperor Tang Wenzong 唐文宗 (r. 827-40), a jester mocked Confucius in a variety show performance.  The emperor was angered by his irreverence, saying that Confucius had been a teacher from ancient times to the present, and asking how the jester dare to insult him.  He ordered him to be thrown out of court. 

寒食節,上宴羣臣於「麟德殿」。是日,雜戲人弄孔子 。帝曰:『孔子,古今之師,安得儒瀆?』亟命驅出 。

Quotation: Jiu Tang shu 舊唐書 (945), by Liu Xu 劉昫

Curiously, this account was later cited by an official as a precedent when he presented a memo to the emperor asking him not to countenance such irreverence to the great sage.  

Both in stark contrast to other accounts of Chinese jesters mocking Confucius with impunity.  We’ll share these as they make their way through the pipeline.  

Source: `Wenzong ji’ 文宗紀, in Jiu Tang shu 舊唐書 (945), by Liu Xu 劉昫 (887-946), fol. 17, part 2, Ershisi Shiji 二十四史記, Zhang Shenshi 張沈石 and Wu Shuping 吾樹平 (eds) (Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju, 1980), vol. I, p. 544.

Image credit: Portrait of Confucius by Qiu Ying (1494-1552)


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